Ariya Jutanugarn won the tournament. Lexi Thompson won a cool million.
It was a stunning finish to the LPGA Tour season on Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida. Let’s start with Thompson.
Lexi finished first in the season-long Race to the CME Globe to claim the $1 million bonus, but she could have gotten much more. Playing a solid fourth round (67), she relinquished her 1-stroke lead when she missed a two-foot par putt on the final green. The gallery and those watching on television were shocked by the short miss.
“I really don’t know what happened there,” Thompson said. “I wasn’t even thinking about it …. I guess it’s just golf. I’ll move on.”
It’s hard to feel badly for someone who just collected a million, but Thompson’s flubbed two-footer did cost her a chance to also walk away with LPGA Player of the Year honors and No. 1 in the world rankings.
Meanwhile, behind Thompson, Jutanugarn played torrid golf down the stretch. A 67 in the third round gave her a chance. Then Sunday birdies on 13, 14 and 17 pulled her even with Thompson with one hole to play. She struck her approach shot to about 20 feet on the 18th green.
“I knew I had to make the putt,” Jutanugarn said, “but I didn’t expect to make it.”
Nevertheless, she rolled it into the cup for another birdie and a dramatic victory, good for a half million.
What. A. Finish.
2017 Award Winners
Rolex Player of the Year – Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu
Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year – Sung Hyun Park
Money Title – Sung Hyun Park
Vare Trophy (lowest stroke average) – Lexi Thompson
Race to CME Globe – Lexi Thompson